The Los Angeles Lakers have come out of the All-Star break with a 41-12 record, good enough for first in the Western Conference by four games.
They've done so despite center DeMarcus Cousins missing the entire season with a torn ACL suffered last August, but guard/forward LeBron James offered an optimistic report on the center's progression when asked about his potential return, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
"Listen, first, his health is the thing we're mostly engaging in and watching him. And he's progressed every single day, every single month," James said at the team's Thursday practice.
"To the point where he was limping and now he's actually shooting and actually jumping on the jump shots, and progressing every single day, every single week. He's out there right now, getting his work done.
"We want to continue to stay optimistic about his health. We don't want no setbacks, as he's had before in the last couple years. But his health is most important, and if we can get Cuz anywhere back to what he was capable of doing a couple years ago, it's a plus for us. But there's no pressure on him. There's no pressure on our ballclub to have him out there right away, or whenever that case may be. We want him to be healthy and have a great, clear mind and a great attitude, which he's done since he's gotten here."
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel noted there isn't a timetable for Cousins' comeback but that the team is "not ruling out him returning." He also said that Cousins is "not close."
Cousins has suffered three major injuries over the past couple years, namely a ruptured Achilles suffered during a January 2018 regular-season game while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans.
He returned one year later after signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, but a torn quadriceps kept him out for the majority of the 2019 playoffs.
The Lakers then signed him to a one-year deal, and he was expected to man the center position with JaVale McGee.
However, Cousins suffered a torn ACL during a preseason workout in August 2019 and has been out since.
The Lakers signed Dwight Howard to take Cousins' roster spot, and he's fared well with 7.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game.
But Cousins could add an extra dimension to the rotation down low thanks to his scoring prowess.
Asking him to return close to his pre-injury form is a tall task if he does in fact step foot on the court by the end of the year, but Cousins is coming off posting 16.3 points on 48.0 shooting in 25.7 minutes last season.
The Lakers' next game is Friday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.